September 8, 2018

This week started off about as bad as it could. I got into a fight with my Mother on Monday, which I initially dealt with by spending as much time as I could out of the house. Tuesday I woke up from a dream about a potential romantic interest, and that evening took it to prayer. Wednesday, I realized I took the easy problem to God but was being selfish about the other one, so I knew I had to pray about it, too. We resolved things and set some new ground rules Wednesday night.

In Bible Study, we continued our Circle Up group, and were joined by two members who didn’t make it last week. We analyzed our overall engagement with the Christian mission through lenses like Personal Ministry, and each of us found something we were lacking in. It also appears where one was lacking, the other was strong. It’s a very natural fit to come together that way.

Our worship was focused on the values of Mercy and Forgiveness, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. As I’ve been unpacking my things, it’s hard not to think about Brian and how he threw me out. I believe I’ve learned that in some cases, forgiveness must be maintained, and that it isn’t as simple as saying the words and putting the wrongdoing out of my mind.

I noticed last week I didn’t have anything to say about my occupation, and it felt kind of short. In consideration of that, I can definitely say I’m grateful not only to have two great jobs, but to work where I’m granted time off when I need it.I’m very much looking forward to the next three weeks, as Starting point will have another follow-up, this time recruiting new students. I’ll be there with Nicholas to tell about how things changed for me over the course of the class. The following week, I’ll be seeing Kaleo, an Icelandic Blues band, in concert. And the last week of September, I’ll be on vacation for my birthday.

In closing, I’m gradually recognizing the attitude I should take towards how I spend my time. I need to involve myself more in enrichment activities, hopefully with the church. I’ll also be looking into a gym membership this week. I’m well aware of the knock-on effect it could have for my spiritual growth. I also think I”ve gotten better about daily prayer. After all, mastery has no end point.

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September 2, 2018

It’s been another week of steady sailing. I added another bill to automatic draft, unpacked more things, and best of all got my collectibles shelf set up. My room is gradually taking shape, and I’m remembering not to stress over how long it takes to get done.

We started a new course in my bible study, Circle Up. It was organized by Andy Stanley and his team, and I couldn’t be more excited. Starting point, the class I first took designed by him, was nothing less than transformative. I had initially hoped my group would be with Dan and Sarah, but I understand after Kevin and Missy shared what’s going on in their lives that I need to be with them to apply the power of prayer. They seem blessed to have each other, and I hope to provide strength and insight.

Kristen led our worship today, and again we focused on the Sermon on the Mount. I thought it was spectacular that she told two stories that I initially heard at Starting Point. One of the young boy in the book “Heaven is for Real” and the other was a personal story of how even though our Sin has been forgiven, that does not mean we will be free of consequences. It definitely served to reconnect me with the moments in that classroom.

Kevin and Missy’s story cemented in my mind the need to be the presence of Christ to strangers, difficult as that may be. But I love to aspire to a challenge, and look forward to pressing myself into this one throughout my life.

August 26, 2018

I didn’t post last week because my room was in disarray, but all of my things are now in the house and I’m gradually sorting through them. I did not anticipate how much I would miss writing. I think it gives me a great deal of direction.

Our Sunday School class was focused on asking what does Sunday School and Church mean to you, and how would you describe that to someone who hasn’t been there. In worship, we celebrated the blessing of the backpacks, which is to provide school supplies to those who cannot afford them. I was surprised to learn that we were putting off the sermon on the mount, but at the end I had the opportunity to share about Starting Point, and once I finished speaking I was surprised at how quickly I was done.

Generally, I’ve had a lot of stress this week because it seems when I’m not at work, I’m working on unpacking. I’m going through everything as fast as I can because I want to make the room I moved my bed to my own space, and have everything else together. Perhaps I’ve put a greater burden on my shoulders than necessary.

As for last week, I got a bill with a ridiculous late fee that I was able to get straightened out, and decided to make it a positive by getting more aggressive about tackling my debt. I mentioned this to Dan, and he said he’d heard some advice was to pay on Debt A, B, and C, and once A is paid off, apply the money that was going out to B, then when B is settled, pay both A and B’s amount on C. It’s a strategy I look forward to implementing.

Also last week, Matt shared that his and Lacey’s adoption was a success. I haven’t seen them at church together for about a month, but apparently that must’ve been because they were spending time with their baby. I don’t think I could be any happier for them.

Looking toward next month, I’m excited for concerts coming up and a week long vacation. In the meantime, I just need to hang in there.

August 12, 2018

This week has been largely uneventful. On one hand, it’s left me eager for the next challenge. On the other hand, I’m more wise than I used to be, and realize that this isĀ  a time to gather strength before the next storm arrives.

I caught last week’s broadcast of our church service, we were starting a focus on The Sermon on the mount. It was very interesting to understand that those who were the least fortunate in the world were those in greatest attendance. This week, in Bible Study, Tanya led us in a focus on the book of Hosea. It was a good lesson, and the myth she went over that resonated most with me was “God cannot use me.” I immediately opened my mind to the question “Have I been making myself available for God to use?” I can say that I was in the right place at the right time last night, as there was a young man who I believe was stranded and already had to leave two hotels while trying to get his situation under control. He asked if he could stay and charge his phone, and I pointed out a place to him, then we went over what was going on. I put myself in his shoes, and knew he needed a safe place to sort out the trouble he was in. I told him about some of the trouble I had up North, and we were immediately sympathetic with one another.

This week’s worship service was focused on Camp Ridgecrest, and after seeing some young people in attendance making the decision to commit their lives to Christ and become baptized, I’m deeply motivated to volunteer next year. After that, Pastor Bobby explained that he had failed his Father’s expectation, to put God first, Family second, and the Church third. It made me take notice that I may have not been in enough communication through prayer lately, and indeed, prayer being our communication with God, from that flows making God the primary source of everything in our lives. I must make the effort more concentrated.

I believe, with our new young Christians from Camp Ridgecrest, that this is the perfect time to give a testimonial about Starting Point, as the new class will begin in September. I’ve already taken some notes about what I want to share, and now I need to focus on bringing it entirely together. Addressing the congregation, at this moment, feels like an intimidating prospect, but given that this is my Church family, I know I have nothing to worry about. I just need to pray to have my words guided by Christ as I did when I wrote the story of my journey in Faith.

In retrospect, the last eight months has gone by so quickly, and so many good things have happened. I’m not sure if I want the next four to go by as fast, but I know I stand ready for what’s on the horizon.

August 5, 2018

This week started fantastically, then a few things tried to knock me off my cloud. Once I finished at the hotel I was working, the Manager I had been working with told me he said to my boss “Get me someone just like him.” I was absolutely on top of the world.

After that, I unfortunately broke an expensive pair of wireless headphones, but I’ve ordered a replacement pair on sale and once I get the original pair repaired I’ll have a backup for the occasion I forget the new ones at home. A friend posted something about how in China, when something gets broken, they repair it with gold, showing the flaw while enhancing the original item’s beauty. I think I would rather like to have a golden streak at the breaking point, but for now I’ll settle for superglue.

I started at my new hotel during the weekend, and it provided me the opportunity to slow down and take a look at the general upward trend my life has taken over the last eight months. First, I land a job in nine days of moving back. Then I get my second job about two months later. I joined my church and became Baptized, committing my life to Christ. My temp job goes permanent, the first time I’ve ever reached that professional milestone. Later, I get employer-provided insurance. Just this week I got my health insurance card, so now I can set up a diet and exercise plan. Everything has been coming together so well, I can see how God’s perfect timing is behind it.

That’s not to say life is without its challenges. The rest of my things got delivered this week, and all I can say of the experience is I would not recommend Midwestern Van Lines to anyone who has earned my respect. I was misled to believe they would pay for 30 days of storage, then deliver it to the home address, but apparently that was only that they would store things for 30 days if we weren’t ready for delivery. That wasn’t made clear until the dispatch agent, who was a nightmare to work with, explained it on the day of delivery. After that, we were standing there with money orders in hand, but because they weren’t from the post office, they were refused. Also, the dispatch agent didn’t even want to remove the fee for upstairs delivery, even though it was no longer being delivered to the home address. Once we got everything straightened out, I still had to pay a redelivery fee just to get it over with. It has been the worst experience I’ve ever had with the entire service industry. But at least it’s finished.

What upset me most is we had to leave before church service was over. I’ll have to watch the recorded broadcast, but I can say that the prayer Kristen led us in today was so powerful I was moved to tears. I’m very glad that, since this large expense is now behind me, I can start giving to my church again.

I suppose I should be ready to step down from the high I’m riding, difficult as that may be. I am ready to continue recognizing positives that may have fallen out of my perception before. I’m stronger than life now. And I can dutifully reach out to others to help guide their path as well.

July 29, 2018

This week, in worship, we closed the month focused on renewal. I think I’ve collected all those lessons and been able to recognize some recent missteps, and take opportunities to correct course. I noticed I was starting to lean more toward instant gratification, which was a startling self-revelation. That idea is far removed from the self-discipline I had acquired after beginning to attend church. I’ll have to make a renewed commitment to patience..

Starting Point will reconvene on Tuesday, and I look forward to the conversation with or without my book. It’s difficult to understand why it would be whisked away for the time being, but if it serves God’s will, so be it. Or, simply, Deus Vult!

This is the last week working at the hotel I’m currently stationed, and I’m both excited to move on and a touch saddened as I won’t likely see Richard again. He has become a role model, both in his professionalism and his clarity about Faith. I’ll have to keep up with him over email.

In Kristen’s class, we heard the last stories to be told, which is another bittersweet blessing. This week I began to feel eager to return to Bible Study, but of course recognized everyone else needed the opportunity to tell about their journey as I did. We heard from Donny and his difficulties in the professional world, reaffirming that if a door continues not to open, we should seek a different path. Then two other members gave a wonderful story about their marriage.

In closing, I feel like I can now renew my pursuit of self-improvement. All my things have been collected up North and are on the way back to me, so it’ll be a good start to sort through that which has value and that which can be let go of. I’ve also began to cut things that would be less positively influential and would lead to stagnation. Finally, I think I’ve found a great new positive influence to cultivate in Richard Cooper, and his YouTube channel Entrepreneurs in Cars, focused on becoming a better version of yourself. It’s advice I plan to follow closely.

July 21, 2018

It has been a very dynamic week, as my “Midweek Madness” entry might indicate. I felt like it was a particularly strong professional week. Getting to tour the new hotel I’ll be working at made me very excited, and at my main job, we left the Friday crew only a fraction of the goal remaining to finish.

On the other hand, I’ve lost my bible and Starting Point book. I’m almost certain I left them at work last week, but they weren’t anywhere to be found this week. it’s disturbing because I was going to use my Starting Point experience to define my next step. It made me feel very withdrawn today at church. Today we had a continued sermon on renewal, and the arrangement was particularly unconventional. I liked it, though, because it kept drawing my attention to the message of renewal. My friend Madison asked me if it could be part of God’s plan for me to not recover my books so easily, and I had considered that. After all, I took the first step without them.

Midweek madness

Because what else do you call the thoughts that won’t wait until Sunday?

Things in my life seem to be moving very fast. It’s very exciting. And very frightening.

My secondary job is moving me to a different hotel, which is in and of itself not a promotion, but it feels pretty exciting because I know I have my boss’s trust. When I’ve only been part of the company for about four, maybe five months, to be selected as a representative to a new client… I’m very excited, and willing to rise to the pressure to be a good employee.

On the other hand, in my personal life, my Mother is looking to buy a new property, and the prospect of being put on the mortgage has come up. In part, I’m adverse to the idea, mainly because I’m worried what I might do if something happens to her. It would seem the mortgage and association fees would default to me, which reminds me of my beginning in Bible Study. That particular week, we learned about Elijah and his protege, Elisha. Elijah kept trying to tell Elisha that he should go start his own ministry, but Elisha continued not to leave Elijah’s side. The reason was, he did not doubt his Faith, he doubted his readiness. At the time, this immediately reminded me of the idea of driving back from Wisconsin: I didn’t doubt that I “could” make a 16-hour drive, but the very idea was just so abstract, it was intimidating. I feel that same intimidation regarding partial home ownership, for though I am strong in the Force, this one is weak in financial literacy.

After giving it some thought tonight at work, I really like the idea of my Brother becoming the owner of Property X, and I just pay him the rent, but that naturally remains as abstract as the idea of signing on the dotted line itself.

Regardless, at my primary job, we have a nearly full crew. I think we only need one more temp to flesh out the entire team, and one of the guys from first shift has apparently switched. We’re hitting numbers at this point I don’t recall seeing since I started paying attention, and I hope that my (partial?) absence tomorrow will have little impact on reaching the weekly goal. If this continues as an upward trend, it’ll be time to start asking about incentive bonuses for how much our crew goes over the goal. But I need to stay humble and not get ahead of myself.

Before I forget, I mentioned my Exploring Jesus in 21 days reading plan, which I didn’t follow last week. I have returned to it with a new resolve, and I’m determined to finish the next 14 days of reading in 7 days time. That way it’ll be done before the Starting Point follow-up, and I’ve continued taking notes on the impact the passages have on me.

I suppose I should talk to my Mother about setting up a living will, letting her negotiate the particulars with my Brother, and talk to my friends about home ownership. I was planning to leave her place within five years, but now an entirely new dynamic has entered the big picture. It has the potential to change everything. At the end of the day, I just need to have the patience to make the right decision.

July 15, 2018

This week has not been as good as the last two. I didn’t read my “Exploring Jesus in 21 days plan,” I can’t recall praying for anything this week after Sunday, and generally didn’t feel as connected in my identity as I have lately.

Also, one of my co-workers tried to start a fight with me this week. He had his back turned to the conveyor with three trays ready to be finished behind him, so I told him “Let’s go!” and he came around to get in my face and put his fists up. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, as English is already his second language and he was wearing a dust mask at the time. I didn’t engage with him, because I knew he was not worth losing the insurance at my job. The only thing I wish I had done differently is that I completely ignored him and kept working. Also, I should have gone to prayer with the problem, but I neglected to.

On the positive side, I’ve locked in a moving plan that’s almost half the ridiculous $3500 I was quoted initially. It’s still more than I expected to pay, but it includes 30 days of storage, and it’s almost worth it just to sleep in my own bed again. I’ve been on a single mattress originally purchased in 2004, so I’ve definitely gotten my use out of it.

Today, we heard stories from Mack, Christopher, and Mekenzie. Mack was very funny in his storytelling, and his wife mentioned how he stepped up to the plate when it was needed most. Mekenzie told us an incredible story about how she survived an attack and was eventually told “You have to forgive that person.” She said the non-Christian part of her brain kept rebelling against that kind of thought, but eventually she found enough peace to be able to do so. It reminded me of my own troubles with people who I eventually forgave. And Chris said something that particularly related to me this week; when he mentioned that sometimes he just feels like he “mails it in” regarding his duties in the church. This week has definitely been a “mail it in” kind of feeling. But after today’s service focused on renewal, I feel like I can understand how to return from where I strayed.

July 8, 2018

It’s been a very interesting week. Wednesday, of course, was July 4th, and it provided a day off likely exactly when I needed one. Rather than doing anything celebratory, I elected to simply stay at home, enjoying a very meditative 36 hours of not getting behind the wheel. When I do take a day off, I’m either headed to a concert, a movie, or some other affair, so it was very nice to have a complete day without touching the gas pedal.

I’ve been following the reading plan for the Bible “Exploring Jesus in 21 days,” and look forward to catching up on some of it tonight. Currently I’m due to read up to the 12th chapter of Luke. I believe I stopped to sleep Friday night in the middle of Chapter 9. I’ve been taking notes on my thoughts upon completion of each two chapters. The first two Chapters, once I finished reading them, I was at great peace. The second day, I was fascinated that Chapter 3 ends tracing the lineage of Jesus back to Adam. On day three, the principle of loving our enemies really stood out. I thought about how I more readily forgive now, and feel less like a child for holding onto anger. Day 4 I read the parable of the Sower, and I feel that my journey resembles each seed cast, but I have become the last seed mentioned- the most fruitful.

I chose this reading plan because I can complete it prior to the 31st of July, which is when our Starting Point group meets again. After discussing what I’ve emailed Kristen about, I want to prepare a testimony to share with the congregation about this class. Watt kept mentioning he hoped he had a larger group to speak with, and I would love to share my answers with a new class in the fall.

Today, I did not attend the major worship service, because I was with Nicholas, the other young man who was in Starting Point with me, volunteering at Special Needs worship. If I can say anything about sharing that experience with these people, it’s what I told Rick, the Chairman of Spiritual Education, what I said when their worship concluded: I thought my heart was overflowing before today. Regarding Nicholas, it was in Starting Point, and after he shared his story, I truly came to know him as my brother in Christ, and to carry that into the study of Joseph with these joyous people made it more fulfilling than I could’ve imagined. Cy, one of our Elders, was leading their bible study today, and right at the end of their study of Joseph he mentioned the Canaanites, and I immediately recognized the name, and now I’d like to study about the people of Canaan.

I missed Sarah’s story today, and I’m a little sad, but Dan said we could always tell it again sometime. I feel a little silly, because after he mentioned that, I spaced out. I feel like I should’ve said, “Yeah, we’ll have to catch up sometime,” but I suppose being up since yesterday afternoon interfered.

In closing, there was a quote from a video game, of all places, that truly stood out to me yesterday: We cannot guarantee they’ll find what they’re looking for, but we can facilitate the search. I don’t think I’ve heard anything that more directly describes the church.